The Great Big Anita Blake Reread: Approaching the Ardeur (An Explainer)

The Great Big Anita Blake Reread_ Approaching the Ardeur (An Explainer)

As I’ve dragging my heels on finishing Narcissus in Chains (Anita Blake #10) for the next installment of my reread series, I’ve realized that there’s one small problem with how I talk about the Anitaverse. I keep assuming that you all have already read the series and are familiar with how everything works and therefore I don’t slow down to explain things that are probably confusing to the uninitiated.

So for the next two or three months, I’ll be writing mini-primers to three of the biggest worldbuilding bits that are semi-constant across the Anitaverse that I haven’t explained (but really need to before I keep going any further).

For this month, I’ll be covering the ardeur.

Content warnings for this primer: descriptions of sexual assault, “fuck or die”/”sex pollen” scenarios, rape culture, and sex-negative feminism framed as “sex positive” feminism, homophobia, a reference to an adult having sex with a teenager


“I thought you would be angry with me for giving you the ardeur, the fire, the burning hunger.”

The ardeur is first named in the thirteenth chapter of Narcissus in Chains after Micah assaults Anita in the previous chapter while she’s under her first brush of the ardeur.

In the chapter, after Anita shamefully admits to having sex with Micah (and again, it was rape), Jean-Claude confesses to having hidden this power from her and to denying his own hunger for sex because he know she wouldn’t approve.

Here’s the first of many issues with the ardeur.

Prior to this book, there’s nothing within the Anitaverse that tells us that Jean-Claude has this power hidden within his body.Read More »

The Great Big Anita Blake ReRead – The Lunatic Cafe

Content/Trigger Warning: References to sexual violence, sex work/er shaming, and well… a snuff film in the text that I describe in medium detail. I still can’t believe it was in the book. I cover the ableist language in the title in the bonus section alongside a bunch of other stuff that I found frustrating about the novel, but that wasn’t related to my angle.

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Lycanthropes are nothing if not practical.

— Anita, woefully understating the circumstances behind a snuff film released into the US Underworld. Lycanthropes aren’t practical. If anything, in the Anitaverse, they’re largely actual monsters.

While the previous Anita Blake novel introduced lycanthropes on the large scale, The Lunatic Cafe is the novel that really introduced some of the messed up facts of life as a shapeshifter in Anita’s world.

The one main question that The Lunatic Cafe appears to ask throughout the narrative is whether or not shapeshifters are truly human (like “we” are). It’s a question asked in almost all of the shapeshifter focused books in the series and one that tends to glean different answers depending on the novel and the characters essentially posing the question.

In this book, the answer is… kinda, sorta, not really.

Read More »

The Great Big Anita Blake Reread – Circus of the Damned

Circus of the Damned

“He’s dead, Richard, a walking corpse. It doesn’t matter how pretty he is, or how compelling, he’s still dead. I don’t date corpses. A girl’s got to have some standards.”

— Anita on why she won’t give in to Jean-Claude

Circus of the Damned, the third novel in Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, has some serious shapeshifter issues.

Published in 1995, the book introduces Anita and the readers following along on her adventures to several of the powerful (and problematic) lycanthropes that populate St. Louis. After a series of murders committed by an unknown group of vampires sees Anita called in to work with the police force once again, the character is forced to deal with several different, stressful things.

To start, Anita has master vampire Jean-Claude panting after her and trying to do everything in his power to make her a proper human servant. Then, everyone who’s anyone is out trying to find out who the master of the city is. With two of Jean-Claude’s marks on her and a reputation for working in the master’s employ, Anita is basically the woman of the hour. Which leads to shenanigans and even more attempted murder.

Circus of the Damned isn’t terrible (and in fact was one of the better Anita Blake books), but it has some problems that keep it from being close to perfect.Read More »

There’s a really creepy conversation about “Catholic School Girls” in the latest Anita Blake book…

Content Notes: This piece focuses on a conversation about child sexual abuse (CSA) by Catholic priests and a joke about “Catholic school girls” alongside talking about rape and CSA survivors in the Anita Blake series and how they’re treated. I also reference the fact that Anita is a rapist (in general) that is currently sleeping with a character that was 16 in his first appearance and is currently 19 to her 31/32.


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The second I heard that Laurell K Hamilton was writing a book set in Ireland, I actually found myself getting worried about how Catholicism would be portrayed and I’m not even Catholic.

In the Anita Blake series, a recurring historical fact is how the Pope excommunicated all of the animators (people that can raise the dead) due to the belief that only Jesus/God had any right to raise the dead and that anyone that was doing it, was basically fueled by Satan.

Essentially, it’s not an Anita Blake book if we don’t get a kind of whiny reminder about how Anita is no longer Catholic because of how backwards the church is when compared to other subsets of Christianity and how she’s so much better than the Church because she’s ~so accepting~.

(In later books, we even got the image of Anita’s existence as a “good and just” animator/necromancer being validated by the presence of angels which is… problematic not just because of things like her sleeping with an actual teenager, her being a rapist aside from that, and so much murder.)

But I digress.

The important thing to hold on to is that from the very moment that we got the first inkling that Crimson Death would be a book set in Ireland – a book heralded by Anita and LKH’s first trip across the Atlantic – I was prepared for the worst.

And well… within the first chapter, that’s what I got.

Despite somehow being the only worthwhile vampire hunter/expert in the world, that the reason why Anita isn’t initially wanted to help the Irish police with their newest case of unexpected vampires biting people is because she’s a necromancer and Catholicism frowns upon that. So they’re basically trying to ban her from a case they need help on because of their religion.

This means that we start Crimson Death with the idea that the poor, backwards, and Catholic Irish people are more interested in protecting themselves and their own religion than protecting people.

But wait, it gets better:

Anita and her friend Edward proceed to have a joking conversation that hinges on sexualizing Catholic school girls right after talking about the history of sexual abuse in the Church.Read More »

Urban Fantasy 101 – Weird Ass Werewolf Tropes

Content warnings: This installment of Urban Fantasy 101 contains references to or descriptions of racism, homophobia, heterocentrism, sexual assault, childhood abuse, domestic abuse, other forms of discrimination. There are also tons of footnotes.


urban-fantasy-101-weird ass werewolf tropesWerewolves are everywhere in the urban fantasy genre.

Most major series – film and otherwise – count lycanthropes as a staple creature and always throw in some funky in-world backstory to make the furry beasts fit into their worlds.

There are werewolves in Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lost Girl. The Underworld franchise – which is like Romeo and Juliet taking to a logical werewolf-y extreme – had its fifth installment (Underworld: Blood Wars) come out in January 2017.Teen Wolf, MTV’s adaptation of the Michael J. Fox film, is only now wrapping up its final season while the television adaptation of Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten just ended its final season in April 2016.

The paranormal romance genre (the flipside of the more “action oriented” urban fantasy genre where romance is supposedly supposed to be incidental to the plot) is so full of lycanthropy that you can’t shake a stick without hitting a werewolf.

Honestly, it’s more surprising to find an urban fantasy series without werewolves.

Which makes sense because werewolves are cool.Read More »

The Great Big Anita Blake ReRead – The Laughing Corpse

Content warnings: ableism, sex worker shaming, abuse and abusive relationships, and racism.


the-laughing-corpse

The worst part about it was that she was right. I couldn’t just put a bullet between her eyes, not unless she threatened me. I glanced at the waiting zombies, patient as the dead, but underneath that endless patience was fear, and hope, and . . . God, the line between life and death was getting thinner all the time.

Anita after realizing that the zombies Dominga raises are sentient because she put their souls back inside their bodies. So far, this is the one thing that Anita won’t do. It’s a small comfort considering all of the things that she does do in future books.


I just want to get this off my chest before I go any further: The Laughing Corpse is a hot ableist mess.  On top of this second book in Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series continuing the trend of being ridiculously racist – specifically towards Black and Latinx people – it’s also full of the kind of ableism that shouldn’t even have existed in the Nineties when this book was published.Read More »

The Great Big Anita Blake Reread – Guilty Pleasures

Content Warnings: This review of Guilty Pleasures talks about the following content that readers may find disturbing, upsetting, or triggering: racism, internalized misogyny, victim blaming with regard to childhood abuse and sexual trauma, sex worker shaming, connecting sex work with trauma or marginalization (as in the only people in this series who do sex work are people who are broken and/or marginalized and they all need rescuing), gender essentialism.


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“Vampires are People, too.”

– The button that Monica Vespucci is wearing when she and Anita first meet echoes a repeated message in this series about how vampires are people too. But people you know… suck. So vampires do too, and not just because it’s how they get nourishment.

Despite it being the first book in author Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, Guilty Pleasures was probably the fourth or fifth book in the series that I read. It is um… a doozy of a book.Read More »

Urban Fantasy 101 – Allegory Overuse (ft. Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series)

Content warnings: this installment of Urban Fantasy 101 contains very brief mentions historical acts of oppression (largely in vague terms), sexual assault and pedophilia in Laurel K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, as well as more indepth references to anti-Black and anti-Native racism in the same series.


Allegory Overuse

There’s nothing wrong with a good allegory.

At all.

Unfortunately, there’s this thing that happens where writers use an allegory that mimics or calls back to real world oppression that constantly rubs me the wrong way

Keep in mind that I actually don’t mind the use of allegories in fiction. In fact, I think they can be useful. Some of my favorite works of speculative fiction focus on supernatural figures dealing with oppression due to what they are, after all.

However, many writers who use allegories then kind of overuse them at the expense of portraying nuanced representations of actual or “real world” oppression.

Whatever your reasoning, chances are that if you’re a paranormal romance, urban (or general) fantasy, or science fiction author, you’ve used an allegory that mimics or calls back to an instance of real world oppression.

However, there’s definitely a lot to be said about the very many authors who think that that supernatural form of race-based oppression is the only thing they have to do. They don’t think deeper.Read More »